Tagged: Gladiator

Russell Crowe

Soap television shows. Yes, they quite often have some very tragic story-lines, terribly clichéd dialogue and some woeful acting, but believe or not some of the finest actors going around today got their start in the acting world in those dreaded soaps. Let’s have a look at some actors who have soap operas to thank for launching them.

Russell Crowe: It’s hard to imagine that screen strong man Russell Crowe started his career off in a soap opera. The actor, who hails from New Zealand, may have made a name for himself winning an Oscar for playing the tough Maximus in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator,” but he started his acting career in an Australia soap opera called “Neighbours.” As a television show, “Neighbours” is often joked about, yet has been the starting ground for many a young celebrity including Dean Geyer, Kylie Minogue and even Guy Pearce. The ‘soft’ opening to his career certainly didn’t hold back Crowe who has become a megastar and has performed in many memorable films including “The Insider” and “A Beautiful Mind,” which also earned him Oscar nominations.

Susan Sarandon: There isn’t much that Susan Sarandon has achieved during her acting career. She has appeared in classic films such as “Thelma & Louise” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as well as receiving a number of Oscar nominations over the years – for films such as “Atlantic City,” “Lorenzo’s Oil” and “The Client.” She even won an Oscar in 1996 for her role in “Dead Man Walking,” but what most people don’t realise is that five years before she made a name for herself in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” she spent a year playing Patrice Kahlman in television soap “A World Apart.”

Chris Hemsworth: These days, movie fans know Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth mainly as “Thor,” the God with the Hammer that has had two feature films of his own as well as appearing in the big action blockbuster “The Avengers.” The last few years has seen Hemsworth appear in a number of big films including “Rush,” the “Star Trek” franchise, “Red Dawn,” “Snow White + The Huntsman” and “The Cabin In The Woods,” but before that Hemsworth was known to Australians as a soap star. He first made a guest appearance in “Neighbours” before starring in the other ‘rival’ soap “Home & Away” for three years.

Liam Hemsworth: Of course, it wouldn’t be right to mention Chris Hemsworth without mentioning his brother Liam who is known right around the world as the quiet and brooding Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” franchise. Liam also made a name for himself as a soap star in Australia before making his way to Hollywood. In an exact opposite to his brother, Liam started his career with a guest spot in “Home And Away” before landing a semi-regular role in “Neighbours” playing  Josh Taylor. Liam Hemsworth has also made a name for himself in America appearing in “The Expendables 2” and “Paranoia” alongside Harrison Ford.

Josh Duhamel: Many wrongfully believe that modern day big screen star Josh Duhamel got his acting break on television drama “Las Vegas,” where he played intelligent detective Danny McCoy. That theory however is wrong because Duhamel had been on the small screen years earlier than that as he played Leo du Pres in “All My Children” from 1999 to 2002. In only a storyline that only soap operas could get away with, Leo disappeared over a waterfall and his body was never found again. Since those days, Duhamel has made his way onto the big screen and appeared in “Transformers,” “When In Rome” and “Life As We Know It.”

So if you’re a budding young actor and you get cast in a television soap, certainly don’t think that the role on offer is beneath you, because as you can see, so many great big screen actors of today started with a role in the humble television soap.

Russell Crowe

At the moment, award season buzz is centering largely around the magnificent performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club.” The two men’s performances have reminded a lot of film journalists at how well some actors have depicted gay characters on screen over the years, so let’s take a look at some of the actors who played gay characters not only well, but tastefully and with respect.

Russell Crowe: Yes, it may come as a complete surprise to many, but the great Russell Croweonce played a homosexual character on the big screen. It was before Crowe was making Hollywood blockbusters like “Gladiator,” so people can be excused if they haven’t heard of the film, but it was in an Australian film called “The Sum Of Us.” If you haven’t seen it, then you may certainly want to hunt it down and give it a watch because directors Geoff Burton and Kevin Dowling did a pretty decent job. The film itself has Crowe play Jeff Mitchell a young gay man searching for Mr. Right. His search brings him closer to his father, Harry Mitchell (Jack Thompson), who is now in the look for Miss Right. Touching, yet entertaining, the film is just a true romantic drama.

Ian Somerhalder: Long before he was playing vampire Damon Salvatore in “The Vampire Diaries,” Ian Somerhalder appeared in the very underrated flick “The Rules Of Attraction.” The flick was closely linked to “American Psycho,” was directed by Roger Avary and never really received the recognition it deserved as its alternative style of film-making made it an absolute gem. Somerhalder played Paul Denton, a young gay college student, who was disillusioned with the ‘queens’ around him and finds himself falling in love with the troubled and nasty Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) who was accidentally breaking hearts right across the campus.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal: How could anybody put together a list of actors who have played gay characters without mentioning Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger? When Ang Lee first put together “Brokeback Mountain,” even he admitted he wasn’t sure how the film would be received, after all was there a market for a film about a gay relationship between two cowboys? He need not have worried as the film went on to record 100 award wins worldwide, including three Oscars. It also earned Oscar nominations for Michelle Williams and the two male leads Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Ledger and Gyllenhaal put in brilliant performances as they played Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, two young cowboys involved in a passionate yet troubled relationship.

Michael Douglas and Matt Damon: When it was first announced that Michael Douglas would be playing Liberace and Matt Damon his boyfriend, Scott Thorson, the film world scoffed. In fact, they more than scoffed because the roles both seemed so out of character for both actors that many thought the film would just not work and it was pretty much decided that “Behind The Candelabra” was going to become a car-wreck of a film. People should never have doubted the creative mind of director Steven Soderbergh because he brought out the best in both actors, so much so that film critic Adam Ross was quoted on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show as saying “Douglas was so far into character it looked like he wanted to jump Damon between takes.” So good were Douglas and Damon’s performances that both have had their names mentioned during awards season.

Sean Penn: Another actor who ended up becoming an award winner while playing a gay character was Sean Penn. Penn picked up the Best Actor Academy Award in 2009 when he appeared in Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk” in the title role – playing gay activist Harvey Milk. His fellow co-star Josh Brolin also picked up the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for playing Dan White in the film that had critics ecstatic upon its release.

Tom Hanks: The great Tom Hanks also picked up an Oscar for playing a gay character when back in 1993. He played Andrew Beckett, a lawyer suffering from AIDS in the “Philadelphia.” The film not only educated the world on how hard it is for somebody infected with AIDS, but also dealt a valuable lesson about homophobia as Beckett is forced to work with a homophobic lawyer named Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). The film may be over 20 years now, but if you have never seen “Philadelphia” then it is certainly worth taking a look at.

With so many actors winning awards over the years for playing gay characters then it may seem like Mr. McConaughey and Mr. Leto might be in a good position as we all head into Awards season.